The fashion of “without” is everywhere. The preservatives, the gluten or lactose are three of the most affected. However, there is no evidence that eliminating these elements in our diet has a particular benefit.
Quite the contrary, in the case of lactose the remedy could be worse than the disease. According to what we know about our physiology, this substance participates in the regulation of the production of lactase, the enzyme responsible for the metabolism of lactose. Stop taking it, especially children, could trigger intolerance.
What is lactose intolerance and what is not?
Despite what many people think, lactose intolerance is not an allergy. We know as lactose intolerance a series of phenomena that affect us at the digestive level, causing discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, gas … However, these manifestations do not occur because of an allergy, but the action of living microorganisms in our intestine .
This occurs because adults lose the ability to produce lactase. Lactase is responsible for breaking down lactose, which is the main sugar in milk. Upon reaching the intestine, the micro biota ferments the lactose, producing gases and other substances that are the cause of the symptoms we were talking about.
Unlike what happens in people with celiac disease, lactose intolerance does not cause damage to the digestive tissue or any other organ. Some human groups have a severe lactose intolerance due to lactase deficiency. Other people fail to show this intolerance practically throughout their lives.
It is estimated that many of the people who believe they have lactose intolerance are not such, but suffer from other types of undiagnosed pathologies related to the digestive. People with lactase deficiency, normally, are able to consume at least 12 grams of lactose per meal, without causing major problems.
There are also solutions to help with intolerance, since not all are of equal intensity. Among them are the lactase capsules, or take lactose together with meals, which would help your digestion. The problems with lactase have been mitigated thanks to several mutations. In this way, Asian and African populations, for example, have a permanent deficiency in lactase. The most severe forms of intolerance can lead to lactose malabsorption.
Not taking lactose can help develop lactose intolerance
As far as we know, lactose participates in the regulation of lactase production. This means that taking lactose induces the production of the enzyme in our body so that we can continue digesting it properly. This is effective, even in people with deficiency and lactose intolerance. In many of them, an improvement can be induced.
On the contrary, some evidence has shown that, in children, restricting the amount of lactose may cause the enzyme to stop producing, so that it induces intolerance. Although we do not fully know the mechanism that regulates it, probably the mutations that have allowed us to better tolerate this substance are implicated in the consequence of eliminating it from the diet.
That is, choosing a diet without lactose, without having reason to choose it, could have negative consequences, producing the intolerance we want to avoid. This does not happen as much in adults, as we said, as in children, although it can affect the regulation of any person.
This brings us to another question: why should we eliminate lactose from our diet? Do you have any kind of benefit not to take it? Not really. Lactose is milk sugar associated with a series of proteins of high biological value. If there is no disease, there is no reason to eliminate it from our day to day.
Lactose-free products are not better
In recent years, the fashion of “without” seems to capture the attention of people seeking a healthier diet. However, lactose-free products have not been shown, in any case, to be healthier or more beneficial per se. Quite the contrary, these types of products can become associated with a negative ultraprocessing . In order to eliminate lactose they must go through a lactase treatment, in addition to others, to prevent the product from spoiling and losing organoleptic properties.
As a result, we could find an ultra processed product with a series of undesirable characteristics. However, we would not have any kind of benefit simply due to the fact that it does not have lactose. This substance also has no particular advantage, although it is not considered a free sugar.
In short, although our tolerance to lactose is largely due to evolution, precisely for this reason, reject this advantage by approaching a fashion that makes us identify this sugar with something bad because it does not seem like a good idea. We are not talking about the decision not to drink milk for ethical reasons, of course. We refer to the fact of rejecting the lactose to identify it as a bad thing simply because there are products that indicate it with striking stamps within the incipient fashion.
It is easy to fall into these types of tendencies, especially when there are a lot of associated and poorly understood pathologies that affect us. However, before making this type of decision it is better to consult with a specialist and know the true consequences that our decision may have.